I'm back in Arkansas this weekend to celebrate Easter and my birthday with my family. While it's always nice to see my family, being back in Arkansas, in the town where I grew up and spent the first 19 years of my life, is also always a little emotionally...disorienting. I don't want to say taxing, really, because it's not really that, but it's a sense of unease, a feeling of dislocation. I have a lot of extremely mixed emotions regarding this place, as I'm sure most people do who deliberatly leave their hometowns, not just for something a little different, but in order to even be able to live this kind of life they want to live in peace. I guess, having said that, it's a little ironic that I ended up in Texas, not at all by accident. Well, that's not entirely true; I did end up in Austin slightly by accident, but I had lived in Dallas 2 years before that, and that was quite planned.
I recently really let loose on a fellow blogger, whose blog I've been reading for awhile, for his constant Texas-bashing. See, the guy used to live in Texas, and he's gay, and an oh-so-enlightened liberal, and now he lives in Boston, which is the center of the fucking universe, and he writes column after column about how wretched Texas is, and how everyone who lives here is from hell, and how everyone in Boston hung the fucking moon, and they're so evolved up there.
I should have been more restrained, I guess, but the fact that he lives in Boston, I have to say, is somewhat of sore spot for me too, as I had to listen, for a whole year from my ex-boyfriend, about how lame Austin is, and how Boston is the best place in the world. My ex-boyfriend was from Boston, and moved here for work, for any of you reading who might not know that.
So he (my ex) was someone who came to Texas, not quite involuntarily (he had to make a decision), but this wouldn't have been the first place he would have chosen to live. As it is with this particular blogger I got so angry at. He moved here for work, had a terrible experience, and then got another job in Boston. Fine, dude. Let it go. Now he's made it his personal mission to denigrate and feel superior to everyone who might choose to call Texas home.
And I have chosen to call Texas home. The blogger makes some valid points about Texas, in terms of our miserable health care, sky-high poverty rates, poor quality of education, and the fact that our beloved governor Rick Perry, who somehow keeps getting re-elected by somebody, in 2005 publically suggested that gay people should find some other place besides Texas to live. I'm willing to concede those points.
But if that's the route you want to take, then you could look at America's federal government, and say the same thing, as over the last 6 years, we sure have had a pretty miserable showing in every area as well. Although I guess in 2004, a lot of people, myself included, did lament that maybe we should find another country to call home, but then we recovered from our national hangover, pulled up our boot straps, and decided to keep on keeping on, fighting the Good Fight.
I love Texas, and in most respects, Texas has been very good to me. I will admit that I live in somewhat of a shelter, I think, in Austin, and don't really have to experience the rest of what Texas has to "offer." Although Mr. Blogger also argues that people are deluded when they say that Austin in "liberal," and cites the fact that it's a white-majority city in a non-white-majority state, but that only 20% of Austin's poor are white people. And somehow that negates its liberalism? I'm not sure how, or what point he's making, but whatever.
I plan to leave Texas soon, but it's not necessarily because I'm unhappy here. I will say I feel like I need a change of scenery, but that has less to do with a dis-like of Texas and more to do with the fact that I've lived in the south all my life, and I just really feel the need to see another part of the country for awhile, to truly experience how other people live. I've done plenty of traveling in my day, but it's not quite the same thing. And another thing I hate to admit, is that Austin has really broken my heart, I mean some real doozies, not once, but twice. I know that you can't just run away from a broken heart, and you especially can't just run away from yourself, but you can take a break for a couple of years. I feel so tired here sometimes, and I think a change of city could revive me, could renew my spirit. Maybe I'm wrong, and until I truly become comfortable with myself, and at peace with my past, I won't be content anywhere. Which I higly suspect, but there you are. Moving is always an adventure. And this particular blogger I argued with also concedes to having had his heart smashed into a million pieces while living here, and freely admits that that situation has colored his feelings about Texas. Which, in my opinion, is all the more reason to call him out on his Texas-bashing. It's short-sighted and bitter. And despite my own bouts of bitterness, I'm doing everything in my power to try to eliminate bitterness from my life. So I've stopped reading the blog.
I'm not sure how I got so off-topic. I think every place has its good and bad points, nor do I think a whole state (or country) should be judged negatively or positively by what its government does, even if those officials have been elected (sometimes over and over and over....). People have different experiences everywhere, and while as a gay man, I have felt pretty assaulted and brutalized a few times while living in Texas, I know I don't suffer alone, and Austin has brought the most wonderful, loving, generous, intelligent, creative, and special people into my life, that I know will be in my life forever. We all ended up here by deliberate choice, and I'm sure none of us appreciate having our adopted state shat on by people living in fucking Massachusetts, of all places. As I once told my ex-boyfriend, people in the rest of the country don't hate people in the northeast because they're all "liberal" (which isn't even true), but because they're all such assholes who think they're so much better than everybody else just because of where they live. Which, I know, is also a gross stereotype. But that's my experience. And the blogger that I attacked can have his experiences. And hopefully we can both do it without hating one another.
I can't say that I would ever come back and live in Arkansas, for lots and lots of reasons. But I can also acknowledge that as much as I don't care for this place, and the things that a lot of people here do, it's where I grew up, and came of age, and I have to acknowledge that it shaped me. And that there are lots of good people here who do good things. And there is incredible nature.
Now, having said that, I'm leaving now to take my nephew bowling.